What a young person is interested in when they are 15 might not be the same as their interests as an 18-year-old. The dynamic nature of transition planning should allow them to try a variety of options in their journey to adulthood. For example, they may start an educational course in one area of interest, but their interest may change over time as it does with many young people. The plan should be adaptable enough to cater for this.
Plan with high ambition (move beyond what the young person needs for their survival) and research different opportunities with them. Each young person’s transition plan will be unique.
The young person is likely to experience significant life events through their transition journey. Their plan should reflect the concerns and ideas that they exhibit at different points in time. The plan will then not only involve practical tasks but also the emotional journey of the young person. Reflecting back on past plans with the young person can ensure that the case planning process creates a story to help them to measure progress and celebrate success.
If there is a change of practitioner during the transition experience, a detailed handover is essential. The process of establishing a relationship will be the responsibility of the new worker; however, the young person shouldn’t have to start their plan from the beginning due to system issues.
Talk to us about this stuff—be persistent but not in your face.
Planning as a therapeutic process
The needs and circumstances of each young person must be considered at each stage of transition, and it is important to monitor how they are coping with change. Attempts to involve young people must be active and persistent, and they should be made for as long as it takes.
Young people who do not actively participate in case planning processes or who have difficult relationships with child safety staff may require multiple efforts over time before they are able to participate and take the opportunities offered. Service providers must have tenacity, persistence, patience and genuine concern.
Engage in effective planning with the young person by:
- building relationships
- having constructive conversations
- considering your own strengths and weaknesses in promoting the participation of the young person, and seeking support when required.
- developing a story of the young person’s life.
Financial support and service options
When exploring support and service options, consider those that will have a positive and long-term impact on the young person’s future, for example:
- payment for a course of study, apprenticeship or traineeship
- assistance with income support while undertaking secondary educational study if unable to obtain Youth Allowance/Abstudy
- obtaining a drivers licence
- attending camps, forums, conferences or training experiences relevant to young people with a care experience
- attending courses on such things as life skills, cooking or budgeting
- living in semi-supported accommodation
- if the young person has a disability, accessing adult services or supports, funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
- counselling and support services, for example, to explore identity issues or mental health concerns
- support and transport to visit or reconnect with family, culture and community
- transport options to enable a young person to attend educational courses, training or employment
- creative musical, artistic or sporting activities that support their personal and cultural development and social networks.
When a young person with impaired decision-making capacity will require their interests to be protected and their needs met after they turn 18 years of age, we need to make an application to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) as soon as possible after the young person turns seventeen and a half years.
QCAT can decide a range of matters about adults including:
- making a declaration about an adult’s decision-making capacity for some or all matters
- determining if informal arrangements in place are adequate to protect the adult
- appointing a guardian to make some or all personal and health care decisions
- appointing an administrator to make some or all financial decisions
- making a temporary decision to deal with an urgent situation
- making a declaration about the execution and appointment of an enduring power of attorney.
Refer to part two of this Practice kit for full details.
Education and training support and services for the senior phase of learning
Education and training for 15- to 17-year-olds
The Department of Education’s requirements in relation to compulsory schooling are based on national and international evidence that young people who complete 12 years of education have greater opportunities for further education and sustainable employment.
Supporting the compulsory participation phase, young people have more opportunities than ever before to plan for their education and future career, to set goals, and to work towards those goals in a broader range of education settings, including school, TAFE and other training.
Senior education and training plans and the youth support coordinator initiative
Year 10 is an important juncture in a young person's life. As young people enter the senior phase of education, they will experience new types of learning and take on more responsibility for their learning. They will also have opportunities to think about future careers, begin to set goals, and undertake planning to realise their ambitions. Senior education and training (SET) planning occurs with the young person, school and the young person’s support people.
A young person's SET plan maps out a personalised learning path for his or her senior phase of learning. SET plans help young people establish the necessary path to achieve their career goals by working towards a Queensland Certificate of Education, or a Certificate III or IV vocational qualification and/or a viable employment option.
The youth support coordinator initiative is an early intervention and prevention program aimed at preventing premature withdrawal from formal education and training. The initiative establishes collaborative relationships between schools, TAFEs and community services, to enable better responses to the needs of young people experiencing personal and family difficulties.
Youth support coordinators work directly with individual young people and their carers as well as within schools and TAFEs, and with the wider community. The availability of a youth support coordinator can be determined by contacting the young person’s school.
Further information about SET plans and youth support coordinators can be found on the website for the Department for Education.
Housing and homelessness services
Establishing long-term accommodation is a critical area of need for young people. With approximately one-third of young people leaving care nationally becoming homeless in the first 12 months, it is important to explore the concept of a home early in the transition planning.
A home can mean different things to each young person, and all options of private and public housing, share accommodation, remaining in a care arrangement and living with family or friends need to be considered.
If the best outcome for a young person is access to social housing, housing and homelessness services should be included from the beginning of the transition from care planning process (rather than at the end). The CSO is required to facilitate and support young people in beginning the process of applying for public housing—from age 15.
Ensure the young person is aware of the Next Step Plus program
Each young person transitioning to adulthood needs to be aware of the statewide Next Step Plus program (previously Next Step After Care), commenced in April 2020. The service is available to young people aged 15 to 25 years who have had a care experience since their 12th birthday.
Child Safety officers may make a referral to Next Step Plus during the transition planning phase from 15, or prior to the young person leaving care. Engaging with the service at an earlier stage strengthens the connection and provides consistency for the young person. A young person may also engage directly with the service, including after they have left care.
Next Step Plus can assist young people to develop the skills, knowledge and connections they need to successfully transition from care to adulthood. From listening to the views of young people during the development of the service, the program also identifies the role of a ‘natural mentor’ as integral. The mentor is not a formal role and the person identified by the young person ‘to walk alongside’ them is usually someone already within their network who can continue to provide them with advice, support and advocate for their needs. Research shows just one supportive, consistent individual in a young person’s life can make a significant difference to the outcomes they achieve into adulthood.
In working with the young person to identify who may be their natural mentor, consider using practice tools to help map their network, such as a genogram or eco map. A mentor needs to be someone that the young person trusts and has a positive and close connection with, such as a friend, extended family member, carer (including a previous carer) or coach. This person does not require a Blue Card, however be aware of any worries regarding safety considerations and discuss these with the young person. Any worries should be expressed in an open and honest conversation with the young person, and it may be that another person is better suited to the role.
Given the positive outcomes that can be achieved through finding a person who can undertake this informal longer term mentoring role, consider this inclusion in case work even where Next Step Plus is not involved. Keep in mind that young people in residential care are reported as being more concerned about transitioning to adulthood than young people from other types of care (CREATE, 2018).
How I will financially support myself without a job, transport, youth worker/foster carer support. How will I save for a car if I can’t get a job? Feeling unstable without Child Safety as I don’t necessarily have a parent to rely on. Child Safety is a safety net if I need advice.
Female, 17 years (in Mcdowall, 2018)
Brochures, posters and regional contact details are available at Next Step Plus.
Young people who have been victims of crime
Most young people in care have experienced, been exposed to or been impacted by violence. Where an act of violence (a crime against a person) has occurred in Queensland, assistance may be available through Victim Assist Queensland, a unit of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.
Victim Assist Queensland provides information on support services and may also be able to pay for services to help a person recover. For a young person transitioning to adulthood from a child protection guardianship order to the chief executive, Child Safety has a legislative obligation to assist with access to Victim Assist Queensland services and apply for possible financial recompense on their behalf.
At the time of beginning transition to adulthood planning with the young person, consider the harm which led them to come into care, or other events they have been involved in or impacted by since that time. Review file records and, if there is information identifying an act of violence or crime, check whether information about Victim Assist Queensland has been provided, and whether the incident was reported to the QPS.
To help decide what behaviours can be considered to be acts of violence, look for information that describes:
- any type of physical assault such as being kicked, punched, held down, held by the head or neck, hit by something or choked
- cruelty to a child under 16 years
- any type of sexual offence
- threatening with force or weapons
- stalking, kidnapping and deprivation of liberty
- domestic and family violence or partner violence
- dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death or grievous bodily harm
- murder or manslaughter (as Victim Assist Queensland can help close family members of the person who has died).
Provide the young person with information about the help and support available from Victim Assist Queensland. Engage them in discussion about their right to apply for assistance, particularly as, if found eligible for support services and financial payment, this support is provided to them after they reach 18 years. If possible, gain their consent to make an application to Victim Assist Queensland on their behalf. Consultation with Legal Services will also help inform decision making.
The young person’s transition plan will include information about any application to Victim Assist Queensland, or plans for a potential future application for assistance. Discuss options sensitively at each review phase, recognising that talking about what they experienced may trigger a trauma response, and respect their decision.
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